Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129, 1st and 2nd movement
Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129, 1st and 2nd movement
Gary Hoffman and Jeong (Christine) Hyoun Lee reflect on how to play with intention in this public masterclass produced by Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel.
Produced by the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in May, 2016 in Waterloo, Belgium.
In this public masterclass filmed and produced by Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, Gary Hoffman asks his student Jeong (Christine) Hyoun Lee an astute question: “Now what?” Lee, who performs a beautiful interpretation of Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor, is prompted to contemplate, despite already being an accomplished cellist, how to take her performance to the next level.
With this, they examine the contrast in the student’s performance from the beginning to the end, and discuss complex topics such as finding a balance between listening (like an audience member) and being the performer. Additionally, Hoffman advocates the importance of “letting go”, being in the right state of mind, and connecting to one's musical impulse and intention.
Allowing oneself to let go and be exposed during a performance.
Finding meaning in the music.
Actively listening to the sound that is emitted.
Being present and living every note.
Balancing pressure and speed.
Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129 was written in the fall of 1850 but was never performed during the composer’s lifetime. It premiered in 1860, four years after his death, and is considered to be one of his most puzzling works due to its departure from traditional conventions of a concerto (length of the exposition, structure, relatively short movements, etc).
Consisting of three movements, the first movement Nicht zu schnell (A minor – A major) starts off with a short introduction by the orchestra, which is followed by the introduction of the main theme presented by the soloist. This leads to a short tutti, which opens up new melodies while consistently echoing the exposition. Finally, the recapitulation reflects back on the exposition. Langsam (F Major), the second movement, contains occasional double stops and a descending fifth that also appears in his first piano sonata. A duet occurs between the principal cello and soloist, adding a unique texture to the piece and demonstrating the solo cello’s extensive harmonic and expressive range. Finally, the third movement Sehr lebhaft (A minor – A major) features a timpani, giving the main theme an almost march-like character. Strange for Schumann’s time, an accompanied in-tempo cadenza comes at the end of the piece, which leads into the final coda. The mode changes to A major.
Other unique characteristics in this concerto include the lack of pause or breaks between the movements and the absence of virtuosic display by the soloist, which was typical for the Romance era.
Live every note, play it like it’s the last thing you’ll every play in your life.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this cello masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Gary Hoffman's feedback and comments.
In 1986 when he won the Paris-based Rostropovich International Competition.
Gary Hoffman is one of the most outstanding cellists of our time, combining instrumental mastery, great beauty of sound, and a poetic sensibility in his distinctive and memorable performances. Born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1956, he studied the cello with Janos Starker. Hoffman gained international fame in 1986 upon his victory as the first North American to win the Rostropovich International Competition in Paris. A frequent soloist with the world’s most noted orchestras, he has appeared with the Chicago, London, Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, and more. Mr. Hoffman collaborates regularly with such celebrated conductors like André Prévin, Charles Dutoit, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pinchas Zuckerman, Andrew Davis, Herbert Blomstedt, Kent Nagano, Jésus Lopez-Cobos, and James Levine.
He performs on major recital and chamber music series throughout the world, although he spends the majority of his time between Europe and America. He is a frequent guest of string quartets including Emerson, Tokyo, Borromeo, Brentano, and Ysaye. Hoffman is a regular guest of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society. Additionally, he has has premiered many concertos (Laurent Petitgirard, Joel Hoffman, Renaud Gagneux, Gil Shohat, Graciane Finzi, Dominique Lemaître, French Premiere of Elliott Carter Cello Concerto, and more). Moreover, he is the guest of main halls such as the Théâtre du Châtelet, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Kennedy Center, and numerous festivals: Ravinia, La Jolla, Schleswig Holstein, Verbier, Festival International de Colmar, Evian, Prades Festival, Honk Kong International Chamber Music Festival, Storioni, and more.
Gary Hoffman plays and gives masterclasses all over the globe. He is a close part of the Kronberg Academy family for years, intimately involved in the Academy Masters, the festivals, and the masterclass weeks. In September 2011 he was appointed as Professor at the Musical Chapel in Brussels.
Born in Zwickau, Saxony (Germany) on June 8, 1810, Robert Schumann was a renowned Romantic composer still celebrated today mainly for his orchestral works and piano compositions. Many of his most famous piano compositions were dedicated to his wife and established pianist, Clara Schumann.
Unlike many composers before him, Schumann did not come from a musical family. Despite this, Robert began learning the piano at an early age at six-years-old. As a teenager, the young musician would become heavily influenced and inspired by Austrian composer Franz Schubert as well as the German poet, Jean Paul Richter. At seventeen, Robert Schumann began composing music that same year.
In 1828, Schumann studied for a few months with famed teacher, Friedrich Wieck — leading to the faithful meeting with Wieck’s daughter Clara. A year later, the young composer left Leipzig for Heidelberg where he composed several waltzes, which were later recycled in his works Papillons (Op. 2). He practiced the piano vigorously until he became a virtuoso pianist. He would return to study with Wieck in Leipzig.
The 1830s was a time for prolific writing and composing for Robert Schumann, where many of his piano pieces were published. They included Papillons, Carnaval, and Études symphonies. Around this period, Clara and Robert would eventually marry.
Robert Schumann would go on to write Davidsbündlertänze, Phantasiestücke, Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, Arabeske, Novelletten as well as some chamber works — a departure from his usual compositions.
By the 1840s, Robert Schumann’s works lost the magic that they once had earlier in his life. He suffered from mental illness and would have periods of severe depression and anxiety. He lived the rest of his days near Bonn and died in 1856.